Green cars: Cost/benefit of operating

Do any of the green cars (hybrid, electric, etc) pay for themselves (in terms of additional upfront cost) in reduced operating costs over, say, a five year or 100,000 mile period?

impossible to say w/o knowing your usage patterns and fuel costs.

And what you’re comparing to. A $43,000 Volt beats a 45,000 Lexus on day one.

A Prius is relatively inexpensive and gets close to 50 mpg.

Also depends on how you drive it. I drove my mother’s Prius for a week and held it steady at around 15% better fuel economy than she typically averages. On the other hand, she bought the car about twelve years ago and has around 36K on it, so it is difficult to say whether she has gotten her money’s worth from it.

It will for some, may not for others.
My wife drives a lot for her business. She drove a Mercedes ML500 SUV with a powerful V8 engine. She consistently got around 15 mpg. She traded it off for a new Toyota Prius v, the large wagon style hybrid. The Prius was very close in interior room and cargo space, but lacked the all wheel drive and immense power of the Mercedes V8. She drives like a Grandma anyway so the V8 was a moot point and she drives our 4x4 pickup when the weather is bad.
The brass tacks is she went from 15mpg to 45mpg. That’s a 30mpg increase over 40k miles per year. She is paid a flat rate mileage allowance from her company so it was easy to put a dollar number on the 30mpg increase. The Prius is clearly paying for itself.

It also depends on what fits under the umbrella of “a green car”. If you’re including all vehicles in that category, then a bicycle is both extremely green, and extremely quick to pay back its cost. You can buy a perfectly good new bicycle for the cost of maybe a half-dozen or a dozen tanks of gas (or a used bike for a small fraction of that), and it’s zero emissions and near-zero operating cost for a vehicle that can replace at least some of your car use. It won’t replace all car use, of course, but with prices where they are, it doesn’t take much to be worthwhile.

Exactly right that this is one case where YMMV is pretty literally true. What two vehicles are being compared and for what driving patterns? How do you drive your car? Aggressively? What do you want to accept as the likely average cost of gas over the time period? What do you pay for electricity? Factor in fewer (or no) oil changes and few other reduced maintenance costs? But then figure out how you want to factor the possibility of battery replacement somewhere north of 8 years into ownership.

One recent analysis using current prices for the vehicles, for gasoline, and for electricty, and looking only at the Leaf and the Volt compared to regular ICEs and hybrids found comparable total costs of ownership.

I figure I average about 7000 to 7500 miles on electricity annually in my C-Max Energi which diplaces about 180 gallons of gas. My elecricty rates locally are cheap (our village has a good deal for some reason) so net for me at $4/gallon is about $600 savings a year. I’ll recoup the extra cost over the regular C-Max hybrid in about 5 years. Compared to the Ford Focus hatchback comparably equipped, my savings are more like $1100 a year, and with the savings on gas in hybrid mode over that vehicle added in brings me also to payback in about 5 years.

Someone else may do better with a diesel or a Prius or a Leaf depending on their driving needs and what they desire their car to drive like.

Just wanted to say: Awesome (and hilarious) OP username and thread name combination. :smiley: